Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Communitech Agile Development Session.

In spite of the heavy snowstorm that hit Ontario, Scott Ambler was able to make it for the Communitech Agile Development session.

In quite a blunt style he presented how Agile paradign addresses today's reality in the software development field. Here there are some ideas that I've picked up: “we are in a big mess“; the traditional “silo” style is risky these days; need to question the rhetoric on both sides (traditional and agile); observe what works and what not; it is a good practice to go agile but be smart about it. “Software development is not like building a bridge”. Ask nay sayers how many bridges did they build.

My second video montage (below) of Scott's presentation captures some agility elements like: reality of agile development, importance of database testing and of the Product Owner, non sexy agile challenges like kicking a project off and transition to production software, RUP iterations importance in driving risk out of the project and the green-shift effect in portfolio management.


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Romanian National Day and Christmas Celebration concert.

December 1st is the Romanian National Day. The Romanians' Association from Canada's Golden Triangle ( organized on this day at Waterloo Collegiate Institute a concert dedicated to this event and the Christmas celebration. Here it is a short video montage I've created with snapshots from the event.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas spirit in Waterloo.

Play the below clip to feel a sample of the Christmas spirit the way I lived it a week ago during the opening of the Festival of Lights in Waterloo Park.

You can also see my picture of the wonder of winter that is the subject of the clip in the December 8th issue of the local newspaper, The Record, on the front of Classified section D.

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It is not the strongest but the fittest who survives.

The title of this post is true not only in economics and biology but in the software development domain too.

The shift from a rigid "command and control" paradigm to a more agile process is not an easy task, to implement.

Having in town one of the evangelists in the agile software development field is a real privilege.

I'm eager to attend next week Scott Ambler's Communitech presentation "Agile Software Development: The Full Story".

Thank you Communitech for this event.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bring more chairs please!

This is what I was hearing before the beginning of yesterday's PI lecture. And chairs were continuously added (getting in the way of my camera that was looking for a perfect snapshot) to accommodate the latecomers or those that weren't lucky enough to get tickets. The front seats were reserved for special guests among whom I spotted Raymond Laflamme, Lee Smolin and other PI researchers.

Right before the beginning of the lecture a very special guest joined the audience. It was Mike Lazaridis, the father of PI, that was wearing a nice University of Waterloo leather jacket.

And so, the overloaded WCI lecture room was ready to sail into discovering the unknown world of information fundamentals. And what discovery it was...

Bob McDonald, the host of CBC's Quirks & Quarks was the captain of this ship (someone had to keep it on course and guard the order just in case the debates became too heated).

Bob started the debate by stating that physicists see information differently than the rest of us. They are interested to know what information is made of. For example while most of us after taking a bite of an apple see a BITE, the physicists see a BIT, and he paused... and the room started to laugh. Millions of bits, he continued, that give the shape, color and texture of the apple.

That was a good introduction for Bob to ask the panelists how do they define the information.

Information is everything, answered Seth Lloyd shortly. Then he elaborated the idea that through the works of Maxwell, Boltzmann and others, physicists have defined the information (in their effort to quantify entropy) around 150 years ago, well before information age was born.

Then, Leonard Susskind defined information as predicting of what is next. And he used the example of a bathtub of water. Knowing all the information about each molecule of water (velocity, position, etc.) allows you to predict what will happen next. "That's a lot of information" said Bob. And he continued with the question of how close are we to know all that information. Leonard replied calmly that before getting into the bathtub he knows at least its temperature and the volume :)

Tony Leggett then defined the information as being about something and embedded into something. He used the example of a map. Leonard disagreed that the information about Waterloo being north of Kitchener is on the map since it is about their physical position on the Earth's surface.

This small debate created the opportunity for Bob to ask if there is any information that is not physical? And the answers were yes, no, yes, no.

Then Chris Fucks used an example from the probability theories to make the point that there is a difference between the world as it is and what someone knows about it.

And so it went for the rest of the panel discussions. What a nice way to end a year full of great public lectures. And it looks like the next year will be greater.

Thank you PI for illuminating us!

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And the answers are...

Well... after such a spirited and pleasant debate during today's PI public lecture I end up with more questions than answers. This comes to confirm the saying that the more you know you realize how much you don't know.

Here are some ideas that I've gathered during the debate:

- physicists have defined the information around 150 years ago well before information age was born
- information is about predicting of what is next. It has to be about something and is embedded into something.
- in quantum mechanics you cannot clone information.
- is information limited by the laws of physics?
- what is the hardware/software of the Universe as a computer? What operating system is it running, who is its programmer and what is the purpose of this computer?
- what is the difference between information, data and knowledge?
- what is the future of the information age?

Stay tuned for details.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Noble PI gathering in Waterloo.

These days we are surrounded everywhere by information. We are information since our body and being is programmed by the information contained in the DNA. We as information use information to understand ourselves and the nature of reality as it is, was or might be.

But what is the information and the reality, anyway? This are such fundamental questions that if you pause for a little to think about them you realize that they are mind boggling.

Anthony Leggett, a Nobel Prize winner and Waterloo's recent "brain gain" thinks that "quantum mechanics offers the 'whole truth' about the world".

Anton Zeilinger thinks that information is more important than the reality since "In the beginning was the bit" . (You can watch his plea in his past PI public lecture at minute 71:30 on this link.

Seth Lloyd thinks that the whole Universe is a giant computer[video stream].

Leonard Susskind thinks that our reality is a world of shadows or quantum holograms as described in his past PI lecture.

The next PI public lecture "The Physics of Information: From Entanglement to Black Holes" will gather a noble panel to shed some light on these fundamental questions.

Is the information more important than the reality? Are we living in a world of shadows? Can we know the "whole truth" about the world?

We'll find out on Wednesday...

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